GOP Holding to Conference Request, Yearlong Delay of Individual Mandate
House Republican leaders emerged from a caucus meeting this morning with the same strategy a week into the shutdown: convince Democrats adamant against a conference committee to sit down and talk about the continuing resolution and debt ceiling.
"You know, Americans expect us to work out our differences. But refusing to negotiate is an untenable position. And frankly, by refusing to negotiate, Harry Reid and the president are putting our country on a pretty dangerous path," Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters. "Listen, there's never been a president in our history that did not negotiate over the debt limit. Never. Not once. As a matter of fact, President Obama negotiated with me over the debt limit in 2011. He also negotiated with the blue dog Democrats to raise the debt ceiling in 2010."
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the GOP is still willing to compromise with a one-year delay of the individual mandate, which is "more than fair given how poorly the roll-out of Obamacare has been."
"In 1995 both sides sat down together under the same type of circumstances and they ended up balancing the budget, in 2011 -- as the speaker just said -- we all sat down together and now we'll have two consecutive years of reduced spending as a result," Cantor said.
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) noted that Obama's postponement of his trip to Asia turned out to be not such a constructive sparing of time when he refused to sit down and negotiate over the weekend.
"Another opportunity missed. I don't want America to miss any more opportunities. It's very simple. Harry Reid, come to the room -- we're there," McCarthy said.
"When you say you're not going to negotiate, that's not leadership," continued conference chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). "Or you say that they're just holding the United States hostage. That's not leadership. And leadership is certainly not when you're not willing to address the big issues, the major issues that face the country."
"We are elected to govern. We're elected to make the tough decisions. And yet, the president and the Senate Democrats want to take the easy way out. That's not acceptable to us, and that's not acceptable to the American people."
Boehner said the last time he sat down with Obama last week, he was seeking $2.4 trillion worth of reductions over 10 years.
"I'm not drawing any lines in the sand," he said. "It's time for to us sit down and resolve ours differences."